Friday, July 14, 2017
Who Is The Sermon For?
In the Peace Column of the Catholic Peace Weekly, the writer mentions a book he received from a publisher.The subtitle grabbed his attention: A believer looking into his storage room. It was a short piece of only two pages. For whom is the sermon written? He summarizes the contents for the reader.
"The sermon at Mass is like a flower in the liturgy. The congregation is looking forward to smelling the fragrance. What they get at times is a nasty smelling sermon. There are all kinds of people listening. There is no way of knowing for whom the sermon was prepared. To side with one group against another is dangerous. It exposes oneself. The parishioners are looking for nourishment for their spiritual life and often receive only stress. He asks the Christians are they progressive or liberal. Whatever the reason to expect the parishioners to be at his understanding of reality is rude. The sermon from the pulpit is not master to slave or superior to an inferior. We need equilibrium between the priest and congregation.
The columnist wasn't in complete agreement in the way the author expressed his thoughts but did agree with the point he was making. The sermon is for the people and not the priest and it's not only saying pleasant things. We need to hear at times what is unpleasant and makes us uncomfortable. It's impossible to please everybody. Jesus himself said that he did not come to give comfort to all.
Depending on the Christian's disposition in being conservative or progressive, will determine the acceptance of what is said. A priest like all of us will speak from his own set of values but since he's human this will not be always in harmony with the teachings of Jesus. We shouldn't react too sensitively here. In many cases, opposition to the sermon on the social doctrine of the Church can be ignorance of the teaching of the Church.
Sermons are different than lectures and preaching at mass rallies. The sermon at the liturgy should become food for the lives of the believers who participate at the Mass. Of course, the subjective nature of the priest is bound to be reflected, but the priest who is a disciple of Jesus tries to minimize this.
Most priests know this. They prepare to give spiritual nourishment for the Christians. However, if there is even a small number who think differently he wants to ask the priest: Who is the sermon for?